Recommendations of the Swiss Cancer League
The Swiss Cancer League recommends early detection measures such as monthly self-examination, annual gynecological screening (with breast palpation) from the age of 40, basic mammography between the ages of 40 and 50, and mammograms at two-year intervals thereafter for women without a family history of breast cancer. For women with a family history of breast cancer, the examination intervals should be determined on an individual basis.
Breast cancer is a very common disease. The risk of developing breast cancer is about 13 percent for women in Switzerland.
In 90 percent of all breast cancers, no apparent cause can be found. Factors such as hormone therapy, lifestyle, radiation exposure, obesity or diet may play some role. However, 10 percent of all breast cancers are easily explainable. The predisposition to the disease was inherited from the parents. A frequent occurrence of breast cancer cases over several generations within a family, a very young age of onset, or male breast cancer sufferers suggest an inherited predisposition to breast cancer. If breast cancer is genetic, on one hand there are other cancer risks in other organs and on the other hand close relatives could also be at increased risk.
During genetic counseling, an evaluation is made whether clarification by means of genetic testing is recommended. If so, testing will be arranged, and the results and possible consequences will be discussed afterwards.
Our lifestyle is one factor within a complex interaction of many causes involved in the development of breast cancer. What makes this factor special, however, is the possibility of being able to influence one’s own risk of disease by consciously changing one’s lifestyle. Numerous articles, also in the tabloid press, testify to a great interest in this topic. At the same time, the flood of information makes it difficult to distinguish effective recommendations from those that are not useful.
Observation of the sometimes marked geographic differences in breast cancer incidence had long suggested a link between lifestyle and disease. This can also be confirmed scientifically today. Numerous studies show that a healthy and balanced diet, regular exercise and a normal body weight not only reduce the risk of breast cancer, but also positively influence the course of the disease. A clear link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer has also been demonstrated. This applies less clearly to smoking.